The Argentine 78 day conflict between farmers and government over tax policies seems on track to an inevitable collision following the latest events with moderates on both sides continuing to loose ground.
Following on the farmers' massive and successful rally of last Sunday (300.000 people in Rosario) and the decision from the administration of President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner to suspend talks, farm leaders are considering the idea of a Monday "several hours' national stoppage", together with industry, commerce and services. "People on Sunday said "enough is enough" and it was not only farmers. People from other activities came to the rally to support us and reject a "concentration model" which is contrary to the federal country enshrined in the constitution", said Eduardo Buzzi, probably the most political of the four leaders of the farm protest. His Wednesday threat has been interpreted as a reply to a most aggressive and insulting statement from the ruling Justicialista Party and its recently anointed chairman, Nestor Kirchner, the president's husband, in which farmers are described as "coup mongers", "undemocratic" conspiring to create a "farmers political party" with which the government "will not discuss under pressure". The release also blames the farmers for having allegedly supported military coups since the 1930s against the "will of the people" and ends with a full support for the "current development model", recalls the nation's effort to rescue farmers from debt and insists there is "no turning back regarding taxing". When the release was made public Mr. Kirchner was surrounded by the majority of governors, ministers and elected mayors of Argentina's largest cities belonging to the Justicialista Party. Meanwhile road pickets kept growing all over Argentina, grain and oil seed trade came to a complete standstill Wednesday and as of Thursday the measure becomes extensive to livestock. However there were dissenting voices, particularly from leaders in the Justicialista party who rejected the attack on farmers and questioned the lack of dissent inside the political organization. "The confrontation style is typical Kirchner, Justicialistas can't belong to a Stalinist party", said De la Sota a former governor from Cordoba. The current governor of Cordoba, Juan Schiaretti, sided with the farmers and Alberto Rodriguez Sáa from San Luis condemned the "authoritarian" message. Meanwhile a federal judge declared that the sliding export taxes on grains and oilseeds, at the heart of the controversy, "were not applicable" in the way they were implemented which opens the way for an unconstitutional demand to the Supreme Court. However the Kirchner administration has five days to support its decision which according to the ruling affects several "rights and guarantees" established in the constitution. But some farm leaders are also worried about how some grass root pickets could react in the road blocks which are now also monitored by the Gendarmerie with others to prevent any trucks or transports from being retained, which apparently so far has not happened. Farmers in their struggle must not only face with endless patience the Kirchners' obstinacy, they must also ensure that the rest of the society does not suffer from food shortages because an overwhelming majority of Argentines, according to public opinion polls are fed up and want a quick end to the dispute, and currently are siding with farmers' claims.